Young and Restless
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:12, 15
One of the reasons that I truly wanted to be a part of Student Ministry, was because I was able to see how students with the right motivation and direction could truly change the world. Time and time again, I continue to be blown away because people always say that they are not ready to handle the situation... they are not prepared for what you are asking them to do. And I just love to fight back and say, STAND BACK AND WATCH! Students are some of the most resilient people I know in this world. They have passions and desires to tell the world their story in ways that other may never be able to do in their entire lifetime. Students have a new view on the world and sometimes... just sometimes I know that it is hard to admit that they are right when we finally open our eyes to see the image they are trying to show us.
But... yes there is ALWAYS a BUT... we have to be able to take the time that we have and given them a purpose. One of the most under utilized vision carrying people in the church are our YOUTH. Sometimes we just fail to give them a real purpose or opportunity to follow through on how God has called them to serve. Yes, it may be a little unconventional at times.. Yes it may even fail and cause us a little pain or embarrassment along the way, but as I mentioned they are resilient... and when they actually see a purpose that they are willing to give their lives for... they will charge in to Hell with a water pistol and tell satan to BRING IT ON. See what happens for most of us is that we fail to see the restlessness as our inability to teach and equip them to use their YOUTH POWERS in a positive way and then actually SIT BACK and let them lead. We will act as though we hear them, but in reality we take over their vision and try to do things the way WE KNOW will work. I see it time and time again through projects or maybe Boy Scout/Girl Scout pinewood derbies.. There is no way that a 7 year old was able to design that... Let's be real, we enjoy living vicariously through our youth. Maybe that is NOT what God needs at that time and place. Maybe, just maybe, God is trying to raise up a entirely new generation of church leaders, but if they never get the chance to try and fail.. they will never understand what it means to lead and follow.
Now also understand that I am not asking you to just say ok.. you are in control of all of your decisions today. NO..God has given each of us these students people/parents to walk with, support, rebuke, encourage, love and yes sometimes allow them the ability to fail.
If we continue to be a society that is more concerned with being correct instead of correcting and allowing them the opportunity to build character through loss, than don't be surprised if we see a generation that is completely restless and searches for new ways to express themselves because we will not let them. I promise you that they can step up to the challenge. They are capable of making good decisions and learning from bad decisions, but we have to be able to walk with them as they connect the dots and see exactly what the final picture is supposed to look like. And hear me, I know that I fail at this ALL OF THE TIME. I do.. I have been working in student ministry for over half of my life.. 28 years, and I still struggle to step into these moments and allow either of my daughters to fail. WHY? Because we ALL want the best for our children. We pray that they will not have to learn the hard lessons of the past, but think about it... It was the hard lessons from our YOUTH that allowed us to be prepared to step into the world. It is similar to the chick trying to break out its' shell. The purpose of the shell is to help the chick to develop the muscles that it needs to survive the world. If anyone else helps to break the egg, the chick could lose an opportunity to grow the proper muscles it needs to survive. The same is true for ANY YOUTH. They must be given the chance to succeed and fail in order that they may understand both consequences and victories.
In my 28 years of student ministry, I can honestly tell you that I never doubt the abilities of students to follow through and get the job done. I have questioned a lot and watched others just eek by with minimum effort, but I am telling you that when you help to give them direction and passion, NOTHING can stop them. It is in the moments where we try to take over that causes them to live in the restless zone that creates confusion, disregard for authority and rebellion. They feel as though they are not being heard and in moments of frustration cry out for you to notice them and stop trying to be everything for them. I need the students that are reading this today to understand that I believe in you... Even though sometimes I question even my own abilities, I do firmly believe that God has called you to do AMAZING things and called you to take the GOSPEL into the world in ways that my generation cannot even fathom. I need you to understand that NO VIRUS is ever going to stop your dreams or passions. It may cause you to take a step back and realize that for every curve in the road, God is preparing you for what is to come. God has gifted you with desire and passion and fortitude that is going to carry the CHURCH into the next century. So please know that we do love you and we do trust you... We just have to learn how to trust and let go again in order for GOD to do GOD's work.
Never forget that David was a boy when he slayed a giant after he had already slayed a bear and a lion. Joseph was a young 17 year old shepherd when his brothers sold him into slavery and through his obedience to God would become the right hand of the King and save his family. Samuel was just a boy when God called to him three time to be his servant and restore order as he would later anoint David as King. Ruth, was merely a teenager when her husband died, and through her obedience she took care of her mother-in-law Naomi and married Boaz and became the Great-grandmother of David. And finally we know the story of Mary who was the mother of Jesus. Please DON'T EVER think that youth have not been called by God to change our mindsets and to carry the church into the NEXT phase of ministry. They have been!! Maybe we need to stop looking down on them from our positional authority and get on our knees and pray in a position of humility so that we can look up and see them in a new way. To realize that God has blessed us with these leaders that are already in process of changing the world. The question is whether we have equipped them or have we taken away every one of their opportunities to lead and learn and allowed the world to equip them for the world's purpose. YOUNG and RESTLESS... I cannot wait to see how they are going to lead us into new ways of ministry that will completely change the world.